Coronavirus has forced many of us into lockdown, only able to leave home for essential reasons. With so much uncertainty, workers placed on furlough and no end date for the restrictions, some may be concerned about money.
However, there are some tricks you can do from home to ensure your finances are in the best possible position amid the outbreak.
Charlotte Oates, from saving and investing app Moneybox, suggests taking a “Marie Kondo” approach to your finances.
She told Express.co.uk: “With self-isolation at home being the new reality for weeks to come, many of us will find ourselves with some extra time on our hands.
“Whilst organising your wardrobe may sound more tempting, why not use the time to ‘Marie Kondo’ your money and start planning for the future?
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“This could be a good time to review your traditional spending patterns and look at where you may be able to put aside small amounts into a saving or investing product that will make your money work harder for you.
“Or why not track down an old pension pot you forgot you had?”
Here are a few tips from Ms Oates to get started, all of which can be done from the comfort of your sofa.
There are many simple ways to make saving and investing part of your everyday life, even when you’re stuck at home.
By starting with roundups on your weekly shop or home deliveries, you can save and invest without even thinking about it.
The average Moneybox user saves £500 per year in round-ups alone, this is a small change which could make a big difference by the end of the year.
Don’t miss out on free money
Make sure you don’t miss out on relevant tax relief or bonuses by spending some time researching the product that is right for your needs.
This may sound too good to be true, but depending on what you are saving for, there are some great schemes out there that could actually give you free money.
If you’re saving for your first home, for example, you can get up to £1,000 every year from the government with a Lifetime ISA.
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Slow and steady wins the race
If you are saving for a long-term goal and have a cash buffer in place, consider dipping your toe into investing, where time is your secret weapon.
The longer you hold your investments, the higher the probability of making a return.
Zoe Bailey, Director of Financial Planning at Tilney also gave some tips for those wanting to save during the coronavirus outbreak.
Use the ‘extra’ time wisely
With working from home, time spent commuting, waking up early and even preparing lunch has been cut – giving more free time for many of us.
So Ms Bailey suggests using some of this time to go through your finances and look into your income versus outgoings.
Doing this may reveal where you could make cutbacks or where you’re paying more than you thought for products and services.
Freeze or cancel that gym membership, check your outgoings for unnecessary direct debits while on lockdown or seek alternatives for your weekly shop.
Think about future planning
For some, the last thing on the agenda the long term, particularly retirement, when there is so much uncertainty about the next few months.
However, depending on your current situation – working from home, on sick leave, furlough or not in employment, could mean you need to think about your pension contributions.
Working from home will not affect the pension or national insurance contributions made by your employer on your behalf.
Equally, should you fall ill, a lot of employers will offer full pay during the standard two-week period of self-isolation when you may be unable to carry on working.
If you are on statutory sick pay, your earnings will be below the threshold for National Insurance and pension payments, so speak to your employer to see whether your payments will be temporarily ceased.
Make the most of the ‘financial’ lockdown
While on lockdown you won’t be able to enjoy the daily or weekly luxuries that you might be used to, like buying lunch or coffee or going out to the pub.
You may also be saving on travel and petrol. If you can afford to, move the money you would usually spend into savings.
You’ll be amazed at how much this could accumulate to over just a few weeks.
Similarly, if you have a travel card, then speak to your travel operator to see if you can claim a refund for the time you’ll be at home.
Most have also waivered the admin fees, so you might be surprised at how much money you’ll get back.
Resist the urge to splurge
You may feel the urge to splurge online, but unless it’s for the essentials, try to avoid the temptation.
Boredom is a catalyst for some when it comes to spending, so try and resist window shopping for non-essential items in your spare time.
It’s easy to spend more than you need to during this time and as difficult as it might be to avoid hitting the online shops, think of the money you’ll be able to save.
There are lots of other emergency measures in place to protect workers and ease the stress of sudden job losses or reduced hours.
The best thing to do is to do your research and find out whether you might be eligible to claim statutory sick pay, redundancy payments, or state benefits.
Look online or pick up the phone and ask for help – there are lots of reliable resources around to help.
If you own investments, such as ISAs, avoid panic selling when markets have fallen sharply.
Stock markets always eventually bounce back and investing when share prices are down, is a great way to make returns, if you have the cash available.
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